Friday, August 17, 2018

Hiring Marlene (Without Quotation Marks)


The fact that I’m writing the name Marlene here without putting it in quotation marks shows how much I’ve evolved. There was a time when I would’ve done that, just to be snarky.

But the way I see it now, it’s like me calling myself cripple. If that’s what I want to call myself, I don’t have to give a goddam PowerPoint presentation explaining my rationale. Just shut up and let me call myself whatever the hell I want.

So if someone who clearly sounds like a man on the phone tells me their name is Marlene, who am I to resist? They don’t need me to sign off on it for it to be official.

Marlene answered my ad seeking people to join my pit crew, which is what I call the crew of people I hire to get me out of bed, wash my armpits, etc. Throughout the years, I’ve probably had 100 or so pit crew members. Most have been males. A few females. I’ve had a helluva cast of characters. I had a Cambodian refugee, who risked his life to escape the Pol Pot bullshit but only lasted a week working for me. One guy got me out of bed and washed my armpits by day and played cello in a string quartet by night. I had a world–renown pagan high priest, whose other job was doing psychic readings in an occult bookstore. I’ve had guys with tattoos all over. Years ago, as I hustled around the U.S. Capitol lobbying Congresspersons about cripple stuff, I was accompanied by a pit crew member whose dreadlocks were died emerald green.

But I’ve never had someone in transition, like Marlene. Hiring someone like them would say a lot about how amazingly progressive I am. Not only would I consider employing someone like them, I would do so with great enthusiasm. Being in transition would be a plus. I was particularly delighted by the prospect of having Marlene accompany me back to the old neighborhood, so I could show all those fuckers how backwards they all are and how far I’ve left them all behind. When I was a kid, a family with someone like Marlene as a member would’ve probably been firebombed out of the neighborhood. Bringing Marlene around would be as satisfying as bringing a black fiancé home for Thanksgiving, just to rub your racist uncle’s nose in it.

So when Marlene showed up for the interview, I was happy to see that they looked like they were in the early stages of transition. They looked like a long-haired male wearing some makeup. If Marlene was a fully-formed female by now and people saw us going down the street together in the old neighborhood, the impact would be lost. It would just look like I hired a woman, which is no big deal.

I called Marlene’s references and they all said glowing things. And I looked forward to working with Marlene for several years, so we could go back to the old neighborhood several times and force those backwards fuckers to witness the transition slowly taking place. Wouldn’t that be excruciating for them? Ha!

I called Marlene with the great news. “You’re hired!” But Marlene said, “I’ve been offered another job, which I accepted, but thank you anyway. Good luck.”

Well, fine----then----- screw you, I guess.

All that stuff about going back to the old neighborhood was silly anyway. I’ve haven’t gone there for years. No one I know is there anymore. Nobody would give a shit.


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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Smart Ass Cripple's Advice for the FBI

I was rolling through the halls of a medical school when another guy in a wheelchair rolled by. I knew right away he was fake.

It must have been one of those cripple-for-a-day awareness simulations, where someone is assigned to roll around a in a wheelchair all day in a silly attempt to see what it’s like being crippled. As the student doctor rolled down the wide, smooth, obstruction-free hall, he had a tense look on his face like he was walking a tightrope. He should’ve had a sign on the back of his wheelchair that said STUDENT DRIVER.

But that’s not how I knew he was fake. I knew he was fake because both he and the wheelchair were way too clean. He looked like this weird pigeon I once saw. The pigeon looked weird because it had no scuffs or scars. It had no missing toes or matted feathers. No pigeon living in the city looks like that.

So here’s some advice for the FBI, if they happen to be reading this. If you’re planning to send a fake cripple agent provocateur to infiltrate a cripple activist group, have a little pride. Pay attention to detail. Otherwise you’re not gonna fool any real cripple.

You can’t make an instant cripple out of any old vert (which is short for vertical, which is what I call people who walk). You don’t just stick some pretty boy vert in a wheelchair and expect him to pass as a genuine cripple. This ain’t a Hollywood movie.

If your fake cripple spy is in a push wheelchair, make sure they have callouses on their hands. But whatever kind of wheelchair it is, make sure there are cracks and fissures in the upholstery. Make sure there are mud splatters on the frame. The chair needs to look like it wasn’t delivered from the factory to its crippled occupant 10 minutes ago.

It would really help, FBI, if your crippled plant was actually a cripple. It shouldn’t be hard to find people willing to stab their fellow cripples in the back for a few measly bucks. Just get a list of all the broke ass cripples living on Social Security and make some calls.

I imagine, FBI, that you probably won’t be slipping an agitator into a cripple activist group soon. Most cripple activist groups don’t do much more than write letters to legislators. And it’s probably not worth your time to send someone to cajole them into writing angry letters with swear words in them.

But if and when you do infiltrate us, heed my advice if you want to succeed. A professional cripple can smell an amateur a mile away.


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Friday, August 3, 2018

The Inevitable Bloody Clown Brawl



That bloody clown brawl sure was a frightening sight, wasn’t it? It was like a street gang fight, except with clowns. But I’m not surprised it happened, are you? When you think about how things are going these days, it seems inevitable.

I mean, when the circus boss tried to cut the clowns’ pay and take away their meager health insurance coverage, that was the last fucking straw! Clowns are paid shit as it is and there is no upward mobility. You don’t become a clown vice president for the Midwest region or anything like that. A clown’s a clown. And when the Labor Department takes those surveys to determine the most dangerous jobs, they never include clowns. If they did, clowns would be right up there at the top. The number of workplace injuries is astoundingly high for clowns, what with all the pratfalls and all.

There’s no way a clown can live without health insurance. So when the circus boss tried to fuck them over like that, who could blame the clowns for walking out in the middle of a Sunday matinee circus performance and going on strike? It sure was moving to see those clowns proudly picketing. Sure, the children witnessing it all looked mighty confused. But it was one of those teachable moments.

Of course the circus boss retaliated in the manner everyone should’ve suspected he would. He called the temp agency and tried to bring in scab clowns. It wasn’t hard for the circus boss to find people willing to sign up to be clowns for minimum wage and no benefits, after all the layoffs at the mill.

When the busload of scab clowns pulled up to the entrance of the circus tent, tensions were at a peak. The striking clowns locked arms and stood their ground. So the circus boss called in his squadron of strike-breaking Pinkerton goons. It wasn’t hard for the circus boss to find people willing to sign up to be strike-breaking Pinkerton goons for minimum wage and no benefits, after all the layoffs at the mill.

What ensued was not pretty. The Pinkerton goons knocked the striking clowns down like bowling pins by spraying them with fire hoses. And the striking clowns were no match for them, firing back with seltzer bottles. The scab clowns attacked. They beat the striking clowns senseless with lead-filled rubber chickens.

But then a scab clown shouted “WAAAAAIT!” The brawling stopped. “Why are we fighting each other?” the scab clown said. “In ten years, we’re all gonna be replaced by robots anyway.”

The scab clown was spot on. Someday soon, at a 5 year old’s birthday party in some suburb, the doorbell will ring. And in will roll a robot clown.

The scab clowns and striking clowns all hugged each other. Then they all went to a bar. Sure, the children witnessing it all looked mighty confused. But it was one of those teachable moments.


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Friday, July 27, 2018

Reclaiming the "R" Word

There was a successful media campaign a few years ago to officially banish the “r" word. People that used to be called “r”d are now to be known as intellectually disabled. (From here on out I will refer to them as ID people because I’m really fucking lazy. Besides, I’m not being paid by the word so fuck it.)

But often, when words are forced into exile like that, they make a limited comeback. Things evolve and some people who used to be called by the banished word move to reclaim it.

Lord knows I do that with the word cripple. I call myself and lots of other cripples cripple all the time. I don’t call every cripple I know cripple. Only the ones who can take it. I even let some people who aren’t crippled call me cripple sometimes. I call these people my honorary cripples. They’re people I’ve decided are cool enough to call me cripple. But the most important thing to remember about this distinction is that it’s not transferable. If I make you an honorary cripple and you go call another cripple a cripple and they get pissed, you can’t get out of it by saying I said it was okay. No, the title of honorary cripple must be repeatedly and individually earned, one cripple at a time.

The “n” word seems to have undergone a similar reclamation. Lots of black people call themselves and others that often. But I don’t think there’s such a thing as an honorary “n".
Nobody’s ever told me it’s okay to call them "n". Maybe I’m just not cool enough.

But I don’t think any reclamation like that has happened yet with the “r” word. I’ve heard black people say stuff to each other like, “What’s up, my ‘n’?” But I’ve never heard one ID person say to another, “What’s up, my ‘r’?”

Too soon? I don't know. But maybe someday some stuff like that will happen. Maybe someday I’ll be cool enough for an ID person to make me an honorary “r”. I’d be so proud.



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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Governor is a Total Prick When it Comes to Cripples Awareness Day at the Old Ballpark

There’s an organization with a mission of curing that condition which makes me and a whole bunch of other people crippled. They have lots of events intended to raise funds and/or awareness.

Every year several members and supporters attend a major league baseball game. And everybody in the group gets a Cure t-shirt to wear to the game. And seeing so many people wearing those shirts at the old ballpark raises awareness among all the other fans about the terrible physical condition that ails us and the need to cure it. And everybody has fun, too, in theory at least.

I won’t be going. I wish them well, but there are more than just physical things ailing me. I’m more interested in drawing attention to the political things ailing me. And the biggest political thing ailing me right now is that the governor is a total prick when it comes to cripples.

Exactly how that manifests, I’ll spare you the details. The point is, I wonder how the major league baseball team would react if I approached them about holding a The Governor is a Total Prick When it Comes to Cripples Awareness Day. And everybody from our group who attends receives a t-shirt that says The Governor is a Total Prick When it Comes to Cripples. And seeing so many people wearing those shirts at the old ballpark raises awareness among all the other fans about the terrible political condition that ails us and the need to cure it. And each child under 10, as an additional keepsake, receives a piñata of the governor that’s full of shit.

My guess is that the major league baseball team would not be inclined to sanction such an event, even sans the piñatas.

The cure group does a lot of other events throughout the year, like golf outings. Maybe I could follow that up with The Governor is a Total Prick When it Comes to Cripples Day at the country club.

That idea probably won’t be greeted too warmly either. I probably won’t find any corporate sponsors. This all really sucks because it’s just as important to cure cripples of what ails us politically as it is to cure us of what ails us physically. Why doesn’t anybody care about that? Or maybe they all think that the best way to stop the governor from being a total prick when it comes to cripples is to make it so there are no cripples for him to be a total prick to.


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Friday, July 13, 2018

Wheelchairs (and Stuff Like That) Should be Free

So there I was, attending this trade show featuring goods and services for cripples. It’s like the Auto Show for cripples except the only autos on display there are cripple accessible vans. Nothing James Bond would drive.

Also, at the cripple trade show, there aren’t gorgeous models in tight, sequined dresses selling stuff like catheters. All the salespeople wear polo shirts emblazoned with their company logo.


The guys who work for the company that made my wheelchair wore black polo shirts. They had several of their spiffiest, new, never-been-driven motorized wheelchairs on display. I heard the head sales guy say to another, “Hey, what happened to the guy that took off with that wheelchair?” It seemed that a few minutes earlier, while all the sales guys were busy schmoozing customers, some guy who wasn’t even in a wheelchair in the first place hopped into one of the display chairs and took it for a test drive.

“I don’t know,” said another sales guy. “Last time I saw, he went that way.”

So the sales force fanned out in different directions looking for the guy who made off with the chair. I was excited because I appeared to be witnessing a brilliant heist! I imagined the guy nonchalantly slipping into the wheelchair and disappearing into a crowd of about 200 other people in wheelchairs. And then he exits the convention hall just as casually and rolls right into the waiting, getaway accessible cripple van.

I was rooting for him to pull it off because I think wheelchairs and stuff like that (catheters, hearing aids, etc.) should be free. I guess that makes me a socialist. Cool if it does. I is what I is.

But shit like that is expensive as hell and it’s not like cripples are buying it because we’re bored and we don’t know what else to do with all of our disposable income. It’s not like we're buying a pet giraffe. We can’t live without it.

So any time a cripple can figure out a way to get what they need without relinquishing a limb or reproductive organ to pay for it, I’m all in on that. I swear to God I once saw a crippled woman rolling down the sidewalk in a clunky scooter and it sure looked like one of those scooters they have for customers to use at big box stores. I fantasized about her driving out of the store and never looking back, triumphantly saying to herself, “Fuck you, Medicaid!”

I hoped the cart she swiped was from Walmart. It’s the same way I feel about bank robbing. If it’s a big fat fucking corporate bank like Chase, then I’m inclined to cheer for the bank robbers. The only thing that sucks about it is that poor, innocent mopes who work as tellers and security guards get traumatized in the process. But they say that soon all those jobs will be done by robots so when that day comes I’ll for sure be with the bank robbers Who gives a shit how many robots get shot?

The sales guys returned looking forlorn. No sign of the wheelchair thief. The head sales guy said to inform security. APB: Be on the lookout for someone in a wheelchair! Taser all cripples! If anyone jumps out of their wheelchair and runs, tackle him!

But then the sales guys all exhaled in relief as the thief returned. He apologized. He said he just thought it might be fun to try out a motorized wheelchair. He didn’t mean to scare anyone.

I was so disappointed.



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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Frequent Flyer Cripples


One time before I boarded a plane to fly to Washington D.C., I ate a burrito at the airport food court. And then, as I sat buckled in my seat waiting for takeoff, I said to myself, “Why the hell did you do that?” I’ve never taken a shit one a commercial airliner, but I’m told it’s quite the cramped experience. I’m told that if you’re more than six feet tall and you sit down on the bowl, your knees press against the back of the door. So I wonder what big-time basketball stars do when they’re not flying on private jets with custom–designed bathrooms. Do they shit with the door open? Does everybody in first class see a pair of long, hairy, bare legs protruding from the bathroom, with pants down around the ankles?

I’m in the same boat with those guys. I’ve never been in an airliner bathroom because, first of all, when I fly they take my wheelchair away and toss it in with the luggage down below. So when I fly I have a two-step preparation ritual. I dehydrate myself and pray.

When I ate that burrito, it suddenly occurred to me what might happen if that burrito started barking within me. There might well be a headline that read, “Flight Forced to Make Emergency Landing in Cleveland Because Dumbass Cripple Ate a Burrito.”

Fortunately, I summoned up all my powers of Zen mind and bowel control and we landed in D. C. without incident. But I don’t fly that much. Maybe once or twice a year. And I wondered how the hell cripples who are frequent flyers manage.

So I talked to this paraplegic guy who says he flies somewhere pretty much every week. He catheterizes himself every three hours. So he always tries his damndest to get a window seat because in the crammed coach section of a commercial flight, that’s the closest thing you can get to a private space. And when the three-hour mark rolls around, he discreetly pulls out a blanket, puts it over his head like a kid reading a porn magazine in bed with a flashlight, and he catheterizes himself. Almost every time, he says, there’s someone sitting in the seat right next to him while he does it.

I don’t think I’ll ever become a frequent flyer unless I’m rich enough to always fly premium first class, which means I have the first class section all to myself. Even then, I won't eat a burrito.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Parable of the Man with a Broken Arm

There once was a man who broke his arm.

What did he do about it? Well the first action step that crossed his mind was maybe he ought to go to the doctor and get it fixed. But he soon thought better of that because getting his arm fixed would most likely require that he wear a cast. And with casts come stigma. When you wear a cast, that’s the first thing everybody sees. They can’t look past the cast and see the person wearing it. Casts make people who don’t have broken arms feel uncomfortable. Casts remind them that their arms are breakable, too. Casts are a symbol of weakness and vulnerability. Casts send the message that we are broken, we are lesser than we once were. Case in point: Two men apply for a job. The men are identically qualified. But one man has a cast on his arm and the other doesn’t. Which man do you think will get the job? The one without the cast, of course.

The man with a broken arm knew the devastating power of stigma, so he thought it prudent to avoid all contact with stigma at all cost. So he decided the best course of action was to pretend as if he didn’t have a broken arm. In other words, he vowed to overcome his broken arm. He would rise above it!

And so he carried on with business as usual. Of course, it soon became obvious to everyone around him that he had a broken arm. But the courageous way he dealt with it made him an object of admiration among those who don’t have broken arms. He may have had a protruding bone, but did he ever complain about it? Not one iota! He never once asked for special treatment or a free pass. He didn’t go around playing the broken arm card. He didn’t shove his broken arm in everyone’s face. He was the kind of man who didn’t let having a broken arm define him. His broken arm didn’t seem to matter to him. So why should it matter to anyone else?
.
So the man with a broken arm pressed on. Nothing could temper his spirit and determination. Not even gangrene. But, sadly, the man with a broken arm eventually died. The cause of death was complications from a broken arm. But at least he died with dignity.



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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Iron Man

Greg and I pulled up to the drive-thru ordering board at White Castle. We placed our order. We drove up to the window and paid. The young woman took the money, gave him change, handed him the white paper bag and said, “I gave you both the senior discount.”

At first I was offended by her presumptuousness. How dare she accuse me of being a senior, even though I am! Shouldn’t she at least card me first? But I soon realized what a silly attitude that was. Why should being called a senior make me feel insulted? And what terrible offense did this young woman commit? She gave me something for a little less money.

And the more I thought about it, the more I felt blessed to be at White Castle receiving the senior discount. I thought about all the doctors who examined me as a kid. I don’t think any one of them would have bet a dime that I’d live past age 30. And here I am today not only an old crippled man but an old crippled man who is still healthy and hearty enough to be able to eat White Castle food without getting the shits or anything!


That’s a feat worthy of Guinness World Records consideration, don’t you think? I know strong young people in the prime of life who can’t endure the rigors of digesting White Castle. Call me Iron Man!

I have a birthday coming up soon and I think I’ll celebrate by having lunch at White Castle. And I’ll invite the media. I’ll put out a press release: Crippled senior demonstrates his amazing vitality by eating lunch at White Castle without feeling any of the infamous consequences, except the inevitable buyer’s remorse. It’ll be one of those inspiring public interest stories, like when a 90-year-old man runs a marathon.

The reporter sticks a microphone in my face after asking me the obligatory question: What is the secret of my longevity and resiliency? I have a one-word answer: “Orneriness!’’ I was fortunate to inherit my mother’s ornery gene.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Billy and His Pinkie Toe


Nursing home abuse and neglect? Call us!

That interstate billboard made me wonder whatever happened to Billy and his pinkie toe. Billy was a quadriplegic in a nursing home. The skin on his pinkie toe was so badly broken down that the toe had to be amputated. I hooked him up with a law office like the one on the billboard. It wasn’t hard to find one. There are lots of law offices like these advertising on interstate billboards and on commercials during reruns of television shows like Rawhide.

In a way, Billy was fortunate. If you’re a quad looking to sue your way out of a nursing home, an infected pinkie toe is probably the best way to go about it. Quads don’t have much use for their pinkie toes. So I bet if you asked a quad which body part they’d sacrifice to be able to sue a nursing home, that’s the one most would choose. But it also cuts the other way. The nursing home’s lawyers can say, “Oh big deal. He’s a quad! If nobody told him his pinkie toe was missing, he wouldn’t even know it was gone. His pain and suffering is zero and that’s exactly what his compensation should be.”

The nursing home’s lawyers were playing that game with Billy’s lawyers so I don’t know how much money Biily ultimately received. But his infected toe wasn’t the worst of it. He was abused and neglected in far greater ways. Every time I saw him, he was in bed, alone in a dim room with a window that had a scenic view of a brick wall. And the nursing home took all his Social Security money, leaving him 30 a month. How abusive is that? And even if anybody ever did bother to get him out of bed and into his wheelchair, if he wanted to go anywhere outside of the nursing home he would’ve needed a doctor’s permission to do so, even though he was a grown fucking man! And don’t get me started about the food!

But if I’d tried to hook Billy up with a lawyer to sue the nursing home for that kind of abuse and neglect, it wouldn’t have been so easy. You can't sell a jury on that stuff. I’ve never heard a lawyer on one of those Rawhide rerun commercials say, “Are you in a nursing home? Do they leave you in bed all day? Do you need a doctor’s permission to go outside of the nursing home even though you’re a grown fucking man? And don’t get me started about the food! If you’ve suffered from this kind of abuse and neglect, call us!"

I’m sure the abuse and neglect referred to on the interstate billboard was of the pinkie toe variety. I don’t think Billy ever collected a cent for his real pain and suffering.


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Monday, June 4, 2018

On Cripple Do-it-Yourself Gadgets and Service Animals


I don’t have much interest in elaborate cripple do-it-yourself gadgets and service animals. I’ve always felt like they we’re more trouble than they’re worth.

For every obstacle there is out there in the world, somebody will try to invent a gadget to empower a cripple to overcome that obstacle alone. For instance, when I was a criplet, I remember occupational therapy sessions were they had me fiddling with various gadgets designed to empower me to put on my own socks. There were rods with various hooks and clamps on the end. There were specially designed socks with elastic extension loops on them.

But then I’d go home and have my mother put my socks on me, just like always. I felt the same way about going to occupational therapy as I did about going to church. It didn’t have much relevance but I did it anyway because some adults told me to.

Most cripple do-it-yourself gadgets aren’t very versatile. They tend to serve one purpose only so in order to take on every obstacle I encounter I’d have to lug around hundreds of gadgets. And who wants to do that? Besides that, theses gadgets usually cost a zillion buck a piece. So fuck it. My philosophy has always been if I can’t do something myself, I’ll get someone to do it for me.

That’s why I never seriously entertained the idea of getting a service dog. I love the hell out of dogs, but there’s very little a service dog can do for me, except maybe pick stuff up off the ground. I’m not going through all the effort and cost of maintaining a dog just for that. I’ll get a human to do it.

But then one day there I was, caught up in the inevitable situation where my cavalier attitude toward self-sufficiency would come back to bite me in the ass. I was rolling through downtown Chicago when lo and behold, there on the sidewalk in front of me was a ten dollar bill!

What would I do? I couldn’t bend down to pick it up. If I’d taken occupational therapy more seriously, I would probably be equipped with a picker-upper gadget just perfect for this occasion. Or if I had a service dog, I could probably say, “Fetch it, boy! That’s a good boy! Now put it in daddy’s wallet.” And I wasn’t accompanied by another human either, which was probably a good thing. Because then there would’ve been an ethical dilemma. Whose ten dollar bill is it? The spotter or the retriever? I would’ve felt compelled to offer to split it.

And when there’s free money there for the taking, nobody can just move on and leave it for the next guy. Well maybe you can, but I can’t. I don’t have that kind of fortitude.

Ah but never fear. You know me. My middle name is Resourceful. So when the next pedestrian came by, I said, “Excuse me. Can you help me? I dropped my ten dollar bill.”

He picked it up and handed it to me. “Thank you ,” I said. “ Clumsy me.”


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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Inspirational Fire Hazard

There was a guy sitting alone at a table at the public food court of the U.S. Capitol. He had gray hair and a gray beard growing wild. He wore dingy blue jeans. And when various people past, he stood and gave them an unsolicited, urgent warning about the coming insurgency and counterinsurgency. Everybody hustled by and ignored him.

Meanwhile, I sat a ways down at a table with other wheelchair cripples. And a no-nonsense food service worker, whose job title must have been enforcer, approached us making a shooing motion with her hand. “You all gonna have to move,” she said. “All these wheelchairs are a fire hazard.”

We ignored her and eventually she went away. I thought she would return with cops to taser and or pepper spray us, but she never did. Or maybe she tried but we finished our lunch and left before the cops got there.

But the whole thing illustrated for me how differently the uncrippled majority treats different types of cripples. I wondered why the cafeteria Gestapo woman didn’t tell the guy ranting about the insurgency that he, too, is a fire hazard. Because he’s crippled, just like me. He’s crippled in the sense that he’s built funny, which means he doesn’t easily fit in.

So then I realized that there’s one thing cripples like him have on cripples like me. They don’t have to put up with people calling them fire hazards. I really hate that fire hazard shit as much as I hate that inspirational shit. I bet cripples like him don’t have to put up with that shit either. I bet nobody sees him ranting and says to him, “It’s good to see you out and about today, buddy! I really admire you.”

The uncrippled majority is so fucking weird. One person’s inspiration is another person’s fire hazard. And another thing I hate is that pity shit. I’m sure the counterinsurgency guy doesn’t get any of that either. I’m sure nobody takes it upon themselves to drop a dollar in his lap. No doubt it’s a lucrative strategy for a street beggar to pretend to be physically crippled. But it probably has the opposite effect on the bottom line if a beggar pretends to be schizophrenic.


So maybe I should be jealous of that guy and cripples of his tribe. They aren’t subjected to a lot of the shit I hate most. I should want to trade places with them. But who the hell would want to do that? All in all, I’m sure cripples like them are treated way more shitty than cripples like me. The uncrippled majority feels a lot less guilty about locking their kind up for not fitting in.

So now I’m even more confused about the where I stand with the uncrippled majority and how I should feel about it. The uncrippled majority is so fucking weird.



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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Cripple Bonding Events



A lot of times, when crippledness invades a person’s life, that person will take something they loved doing before they were crippled and try to make it accessible for other cripples to do. Often they put together a non-profit organization and hustle up a bunch of volunteers and have a big bonding event where cripples get together and do that thing. It’s their way of coping. It’s part of their healing process. They focus on the positive side of being crippled and try to get others, especially young cripplets, to do the same.

Like for instance, if a bungee jumper becomes crippled, he/she might organize an extravaganza for wheelchair bungee jumpers. The volunteers tie bungee cords around the cripples’ ankles, push their wheelchairs up to the cliff and dump them out.

I’ve seen a lot of hunting lovers who organize bonding events for crippled hunters. Cripples roll around in these motorized hunting wheelchairs that have tank treads for tires. And the wheelchairs are painted camouflage. And cripples have hunting rifles mounted on the chairs. They look like some sort of crippled militia. Even if I liked hunting, I’d be afraid to take part in one of those cripple hunting trips. I’d be afraid that, just my luck, one of those Big Foot bounty hunters would see me rolling through the woods in one of those chairs with tank treads and he’d sneak up behind me, throw a net over me and then whoop and holler about finally catching the big prize!

These events don’t have nostalgic appeal to me because I was born crippled so I never went hunting or anything like that so I don’t miss it. But I try to focus on the positive side of my crippledness in a different way. I try to pause every now and then and remind myself how fortunate I am that there are some things I can’t do.

I’m especially grateful for those things I can't do that get me off the hook for doing shit I don’t want to do. Like when I was kid, being crippled gave me a good excuse not to go to church or Sunday school. My uncrippled peers were so damn envious. And later on, being crippled was a guarantee that I wouldn’t be drafted. And my uncrippled peers were even more envious.

Hell, even today, being crippled gives me any excuse for the saying fuck everything and collecting Social Security if I want to.

If I was going organize a cripple bonding event, I’d gather a bunch of cripples to not do something together. Like maybe while everybody else is in church, we’d all go hang out somewhere, anywhere, just so it’s not church.

It would remind us that inability, not ability, is what really matters.


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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Viva Greg Smith

Baseball reminds me of Greg Smith. In the 1990s, Greg created a cripple-themed, syndicated radio talk show called On a Roll. At its peak it was aired on 70 radio stations across the U.S.

In the early 2000s, I was his producer. We brainstormed about show topics and guests. Sometimes we went on the air together. It was big fun.

Greg was an enormous Chicago Cubs fan, even more so than me. One day we were talking about the hundreds of hours we’ve spent throughout our lives watching baseball on television. And Greg says, “When they show shots of the crowd, have you ever seen anybody in a wheelchair?” I didn’t have to think about that for long. The answer was no.

That was a keen observation on Greg’s part. I’m sure there are cripples at every major league ballgame. There have been others besides me at every game I’ve ever attended. So why did we never see them on television? The only explanation was that whoever decides which crowd shots make it on the air was consciously avoiding showing any cripples. What else could it be? I don’t think there was a memo from the baseball commissioner’s office stating, “Under no circumstances are you to show any cripples in your crowd shots.” No, it was more likely that there was a subconscious consensus among broadcasters that aesthetically-pleasing shots of fans having fun at the ballpark don’t include any cripples.

Greg wrote, “My parents have shared with me their reflection on a day when televisions were ‘black & white,’ but that phrase didn’t represent the people ‘inside’ the box. When the first black people came on television, it was a big deal!

“Families rushed to gather around the tiny, blurry picture in festive mode. It was a great thrill for them to see people who looked like them represented for the nation to see. Television became a major catalyst that paved the way to the explosion of African American culture’s current status as a vital part of pop culture.

“In order for people with disabilities to develop the social confidence to reach our full potential and put our spin on pop culture, we need to be seen on television. That’s a prerequisite first step.

“Are we not shown on TV because we’re too repulsive? Ugly? Deformed? Misshapen? Depressing to non-disabled viewers? Would we make people grab their remotes and turn the station?”

So Greg started an initiative called ADA Fan Cam. He asked crippled baseball fans to send him pictures of themselves at major league baseball games so he could use that to
pressure the brass at MLB headquarters to show crippled fans in the stands at games on July 26, 2015 and to have all broadcasters acknowledge that day as the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The good news is MLB acquiesced and on that day people watching games on television all over the country saw crippled fans in crowd shots and heard announcers honor the ADA.

Greg said, “This is a huge step. Now maybe it will be normal to see a fan with a disability once in a while during a ballgame.”

But the real bad news is that Greg died the following June, just a few months before the Cubs won the damn World Series! MLB broadcasts did not show crippled fans or commemorate the ADA on the next ADA anniversary day. And I’ve watched a lot of baseball games since then and haven’t seen a cripple in a crowd shot. Apparently the 2015 ADA celebration was all just tokenism.

So I guess in order to honor my buddy Greg’s legacy by being seen on television at a ballgame, I’m going to have to run out on the field naked. (Maybe I’ll wear the cap of the home team.) That seems like the only way to get the camera crews to stop ignoring me.

It won’t be easy. Any uncrippled mope only has to jump over the wall if they want to run out on the field. I can’t do that. So I’ll have to pretend like it’s a make-a-wish thing—my greatest fantasy is to circle the bases during the 7th inning stretch.

That way, security will escort me onto the field. I’ll need an accomplice—somebody to whip my clothes off me quick once I’m on the field. That person will probably be promptly arrested. Police often do that when I’m out protesting with other cripples. Instead of arresting us, they grab the closest vert (which is short for vertical, which is cripple slang for people who walk.)

But it’s all for a great cause. With his ADA Fan Cam Campaign, Greg got a lot of people thinking about cripples and who we are, even if just for a minute or two. Now it’s time to take it to a new level.



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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Desegregate the Special Olympics

I looked in a thesaurus in search of antonyms for the word special. The most humorous ones I found are humdrum, mediocre, ordinary, run of the mill, no great shakes, undistinctive, everyday, unexceptional and routine.

I did this because this year is the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. Thus, I’m looking for a contrasting word to describe those other Olympics that come around every four years. Should I call them the humdrum Olympics? That’s funny but not accurate. It implies that those Olympics are boring compared to the Special Olympics. How about the mediocre Olympics? Inaccurate again. It suggests that those other Olympics are athletically inferior. That’s the problem with the word special when applied to cripples. Suddenly it takes on the opposite meaning. It becomes kind of an insult.

I guess I’ll call them the regular Olympics, for lack of a better word. It’s been a nice run for the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics has created a higher level of understanding, many people say. Maybe so, but now it’s time to create an even higher level of understanding by merging the Special Olympics with the regular Olympics.

Every regular Olympic competition ought to be required to include a Special Olympian. And I don’t mean Special Olympians wrestling each other. No way! I mean regular wrestling Special, mano a mano. And none of this condescending shit either, where the regular wrestler puts on a big heroic act and lets the Special guy pin him. I’m talking about full-out, testosterone-fueled, genuine wrestling. And if the Special guy gets thrown into the audience, well then we’ve created a higher level of understanding. That’s what it takes sometimes. Creating higher levels of understanding ain't easy. And if the regular guy gets thrown into the audience, even better!

Or we could require the regulars to engage the Specials on the Specials’ terms. Like let’s make all the basketball players get in wheelchairs. Then watch all those leaping superstar regulars like LeBron bumble all over the place while the real cripples zip around and make them dizzy. Who’s so fucking special now?

Or it could be a cooperative thing where a regular and a Special team up for the common good. Like luge could be done the same way some people do skydiving, where someone who has never jumped out of a plane is tied to a pro skydiver. The pro skydiver pulls the ripcord and does all the work and all the other person has to do is try not to shit their pants. Similarly, a Special Olympian can be tied to a regular Olympian on a luge and they can hurdle through the snowy channel together as one.

My point is there are a lot of ways to merge the Special Olympics and regular Olympics so let’s get on with it. Hey, this is 20-fucking-18! There’s no excuse for segregation.





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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Evil Spirits


If you see a single-family home that was built to be accessible for a wheelchair cripple, you know that either a) someone who lives there is a wheelchair cripple or b) someone who is important to someone who lives there is a wheelchair cripple.

I suppose it’s also slightly possible that whoever lives there is neither a wheelchair cripple nor gives a particular crap about anyone who is but they bought the house anyway because it was super cheap. And the reason it was super cheap is because it was built to be accessible for a wheelchair cripple. Making a house accessible for a wheelchair cripple lowers the value of that house and all the other houses around it, or at least that’s what a lot of people seem to think.

You'd think it would be the other way around. You'd think being wheelchair cripple accessible would be as much of a selling point for a house as an outdoor patio. When my Aunt Gerry bought a condo, she bought one that my sister and I could get into with our wheelchairs. And it turned out to be a damn good thing that she did because she ended up needing a wheelchair to get around eventually. The one thing she wanted more than anything else was to stay out of a fucking nursing home and she did. But if her condo hadn’t been wheelchair cripple accessible, she would’ve been screwed.

You’d think everybody would want to do sensible shit like that. Build houses where wheelchair cripple access is a standard feature, just in case. Why not? What does it hurt? But most people seem to think that when building or buying a house, the more wheelchair cripple inaccessible it is the better.

I think what’s going on here is an evil spirits type of thing. Sometimes people put grotesques or gargoyles or voodoo-looking scarecrow thingies on or around their houses to scare away evil spirits. It seems like a lot of people think that making wheelchair cripples feel unwelcome will make crippledness itself feel unwelcome and thus dissuade it from invading the household. I’m surprised they don't put tire-shredding spikes by the front door, as an extra line of defense.

But then, in spite of all that effort, someone in the household becomes crippled anyway and then they’re screwed. Because you can’t scare crippledness away. But you can outsmart it.





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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Mightiest



Back when I was a criplet attending cripple summer camp, there was an adult woman also attending summer camp who was so crippled that they rolled her around on a gurney. She was so crippled she couldn’t even sit up

I admit she freaked me out, even though she didn’t have fangs or anything. She seemed like a normal woman, except she rolled around on a gurney. She freaked me out because she was so crippled. I was glad I wasn’t that crippled.

But now there are days when I really wish I was that crippled. Those are the days when I’m protesting. On those days, if I was so crippled that I rolled around on a gurney, I’d feel so powerful.

Yep, if that was me I’d be marching through the streets with my gurney all done up like a float. And hanging on both sides of my gurney I'd have big banners saying stuff like FUCK REPUBLICANS.

And I'd be sure to always carry along a couple sets of shackles so that the people pushing my gurney could shackle me to the White House fence. That ought to make a few headlines, especially if I got arrested. Or my pushers could shackle me to the desk of some fascist lawmaker. Because there’s nothing every lawmaker dreads more than their secretary calling them and saying, “I’m sorry to bother you but there’s a man so crippled that he rolls around on a gurney shackled to your desk.”

And when I wasn’t protesting in the streets, I’d be trying to organize other people so crippled that they roll around on gurneys to come protest with me. Because the only thing that scares the shit out of a lawmaker more than the sight of a guy so crippled he rolls around on a gurney coming their way is the sight of a flotilla of people so crippled they roll around on gurneys coming their way.

When I protest, I’m very tempted fake like I’m so crippled I roll around on a gurney. I’d do it up big time, with a fake IV and all. But no doubt some right wing news outfit, threatened by my awesome power, will expose me as a fake. And that will be used to discredit all those who are legitimately so crippled they roll around on gurneys.

So for now I just have to accept the fact that I’m not yet so crippled I roll around on a gurney. I’ll just be patient and let nature take its course and maybe someday I’ll be that powerful.




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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Crippled Fools Throughout the Centuries




If I wasn’t crippled, I don’t know if I would be a smart ass. Probably not. I think the two go hand in hand.

It’s the result of thousands of years of cripple evolution. It’s natural selection. I believe that the cripples that have survived the best throughout time are the ones that have the fool gene

Because there have always been cripples like me. They didn’t just invent us in the 20th Century. I imagine that cripples way way back in the days of yore had a pretty rough time of it. No wheelchairs, no nothing. How would a cripple like me survive? I bet the only ones who had a fighting chance were the ones that played the fool.

They probably smothered cripples like me way back when or left us for dead. I mean, they still do that today in some places. But somewhere along the line, some cripple, in a desperate, last-ditch effort to stay alive, probably made a goofy face or gimped it up real good or told a fart joke and everybody laughed. And everybody realized that maybe this particular cripple might have a little bit of worth after all. Maybe we should keep this one around for a little while. Everybody needs a good laugh, eh?

Yeah, I imagine that for many centuries, fool was about the only job option open to cripples, except for beggar. But begging is a dead end job. There’s no upward mobility. Being a fool, on the other hand, could be a path to true economic freedom. A particularly gifted crippled fool might maybe even rise to level of court jester. And then he’d get to live in the castle, summoned only when the king has a craving for shtick. Being crippled might even be considered a selling point when applying for the job of court jester. The king could brag to the other kings that his fool is no ordinary fool. His fool has a gimmick.

Back in those days, playing the fool was a very high stakes job. If your material fell flat and you were fired, you were back to being just another worthless cripple. For me today, being able to play the fool is a bonus, more or less. It still comes in handy. Like for instance, sometimes I have to hire a new person to join my pit crew, which is the team of people who assist me in my home. It’s not the greatest job, but it’s not the worst job either. Ass wiping and crotch washing are essential job duties. But I tell people it’s got to be better than the working at the 7-11 downstairs. It pays a little more and you don’t have to put up with corporate bullshit.

I find that one of the main things that makes people decide to join my pit crew and stick around is that I can tell a decent fart joke. It gives me an edge on the competition.

That why whenever I post a want ad for a pit crew member, in order to find people on the right wavelength, I always say that applicants must “have an appreciation for fart jokes.”




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Monday, April 2, 2018

Yet Another Ask Smart Ass Cripple

Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
I must take vehement exception to one of your entries, in which you referred to our current American president as an “anal wart.” How dare you! This characterization is unfair, inaccurate and ill-informed. On behalf of all decent Americans, I demand a retraction!
Yours in fury,
The Spokesman for all Decent Americans


Dear Spokesman,
Your letter caused me to engage in a great deal of reflection, which brought me to the sobering realization that I did indeed call our chief executive an anal wart without having a full understanding of what an anal wart is. So you are correct in asserting that I was ill-informed.

After studying up on anal warts on the internet, I’ve learned that there are some striking similarities between anal warts and the president. For instance, one site described anal warts as “cauliflower-like” in appearance. And there is something vaguely cauliflower-like about our president.

And, much like our president, anal warts are irritating and unsightly and embarrassing and a pain in the ass. But there is a significant difference. For the most part, anal warts aren’t lethal. Sometimes they develop into cancer, but not as a rule. Our president, on the other hand, is a cultural cancer that is 100 percent lethal. Unless excised as soon as possible, we’re all doomed.

So I hereby offer this retraction. I should not have referred to POTUS 45 as an anal wart. It was unfair, inaccurate and ill-informed. I should have called him a malignant anal wart.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
Do you consider yourself to be an artist? If so, when did you feel you could call yourself that?
Sincerely,
Art N. Kraft


Dear Art,
I definitely do call myself an artist. I knew I was an artist ever since I was an adolescent living at a state-operated boarding school for cripples, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT).

I participated in an art contest. The creation of my masterpiece began when I rolled a paper drinking straw in a pool of Elmer's glue. Then I rolled the straw in red glitter and glued the glittery straw to a piece of green paper. And finally, I squirted streaks of Elmer's all over the green paper and sprinkled them over with more glitter.

I didn't give my sparkling abstract a title as I recall. I should have called it Nude on the Beach or Self Portrait. But it was displayed along with the work of all the other contestants on the windows of the nurse’s station and I won the grand prize, which was a whiffle football and kicking tee.

This is why I feel justified in calling myself an artist, though I no longer have the whiffle football to prove it.


Dear Smart Ass Cripple,
I’m sure you’ve heard the old admonition that masturbation will make you go blind. Is this true or is it just a wives tale? I figured you’d know.
Yours truly,
A Worried Catholic


Dear Worried Catholic,
All I can say is I’ve known many blind people in my life and every last one of them masturbated at some point. I’ve never asked any of them if they’ve ever masturbated. I just assume they all have and probably still do, seeing as they’re all human beings.





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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Kiss Me I'm Crippled

Every year there’s a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago. All the douche bag politicians put on a green tie and march in the parade, especially if they’re campaigning.

After the parade, there are swarms of drunken people downtown wearing green plastic derbies and fake Irish stuff like that. They drink in the bars until the wee hours.

I guess the closest cripple holiday equivalent to St. Patrick’s Day would be ADA Day. That’s July 26, which is the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. ADA Day is similar to St. Patrick’s Day in a few ways. The douche bag politicians all glom on, but they do it by issuing phony proclamations about how wonderful the ADA is. In Chicago, there’s a parade on or around ADA Day. But it’s much smaller than the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

But you don’t see swarms of drunks on the streets on ADA day. The bars aren’t packed with revelers. Nobody uses ADA Day as a good excuse to get drunk. Well, maybe some people do. I know I do, but I use Wednesday as a good excuse to get drunk.

My fourth grade teacher used to say, “Everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” But ADA Day hasn’t gotten to the point where everyone declares themselves an honorary cripple for the day. The party stores don’t stock up with cripple-themed stuff. The people who wear green plastic derbies don’t hop into rented wheelchairs on ADA Day or meander around downtown wearing dark sunglasses and tapping a white cane. On ADA Day, they don’t wear buttons that say Kiss Me I’m Crippled.

I don’t know whether that’s good or bad. A part of me feels slighted that there isn’t the same level of appropriation of cripple culture on ADA Day. But I suppose, all things considered, it’s probably good. Because if everyone was a cripple on ADA Day, it would be really hard to find a cripple parking space. And if a douche bag politician like Paul Ryan showed up on crutches with one leg tied behind his back ready to march in the ADA Day parade, it would be just too creepy.




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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Brilliance and Luck



For millions of cripples like me, Stephen Hawking was an example of how even a really really crippled person can rise above all obstacles and achieve great notoriety, as long as they’re the smartest person in the whole fucking universe.

But actually, even that wasn’t enough. No one would have known or cared how smart he was if he hadn’t been lucky, too. He was lucky that he wasn’t born as crippled as he was, or else he would probably have been sent off to a place like the state-operated boarding school for cripples I attended, which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). There were lots of kids there who couldn’t walk or talk or move much, like him. Nobody took them seriously. The staff gave them the basics— dress them, feed them, hose them down, place them in the TV room during idle hours.

None of his fellow inmates would’ve taken him seriously either. In fact, we would have avoided him. I know I would have. There were no big-time cripples like him in my clique, just like there were no cripples like me in the clique of the crippled jocks. In gym class, no one would have chosen him for their team. But eventually the staff would have compelled us to include him in our games. So I guess if the game was wheelchair soccer or hockey, we would’ve parked him in front of a net, called him a goalie and hoped for the best.

The teachers wouldn’t have taken him seriously either. He probably would’ve spent the day in a time-killing classroom learning about colors. No one ever would’ve ever suspected that a kid like him could be pondering the cosmos.

The doctors wouldn’t have taken him seriously either. They would’ve all said he’s going to die any minute now. Oh wait, the doctors said that about him anyway. Never mind.

And the social workers also wouldn’t have taken him seriously. Once he reached age 21 and could no longer stay at SHIT, they would have sent to a nursing home, where he would be fed and dressed and hosed down and placed in the TV room during idle hours.

But Stephen Hawking was a lucky man. By the time he became crippled, everybody already knew how fucking brilliant he was. So he could not be denied. Everyone had no choice but to take him seriously, whether they liked it or not.

Lucky for all of us it worked out that way. But too bad for those cripples who went to SHIT who weren’t the smartest person in the whole fucking universe. Or maybe they were. Who knows?


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Monday, March 12, 2018

If I Only had a Son

There are times when I really regret that I never had a son. I feel it most we I see one of those videos all over the internet where a high school football team lets a local crippled teenager score a touchdown.

You know how it goes. The kid usually has Down syndrome or autism or something like that. He’s the mascot or the water boy or something. And at the end of the game they give the kid the ball and the other team agrees not to tackle him and he runs for a touchdown while all the players on both teams escort him like a convoy of bodyguards. I’ve even seen it where the kid is in a motorized wheelchair. And the crippled kid is usually the brother or neighbor or whatever of a player and after the game that player says that’s what inspired him to arrange all this. He says he did it to bring the crippled kid joy and to make the important statement that cripples can do anything if they have enough determination, just like everybody else.

And whenever I see that I wish that just once just one player had the balls to treat that kid like a regular human being and tackle his ass. And that’s when I really wish I had a son. And I wish my son was a player on that field. Because I know no son of mine would ever patronize a crippled kid like that by letting him score a touchdown. I’d raise him better than that. He’d have enough respect for that kid to flatten him, even if he was on the same team. Or if the kid was in a motorized wheelchair, my son would sneak up behind him while he's barreling toward the end zone and flip the lever that disconnects the motors. Being my son, he’d know where that lever is.

And after the game, my son would say that his father is crippled and that’s what inspired him to tackle the kid or disconnect his motors. He’d say he did it to bring me joy and to make the important statement that not even a super determined cripple can do everything, just like everybody else.

I’d be so proud of him.



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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Can Smart Ass Cripple be Rehabilitated?

Pretty much every cripple sooner or later deals with the Department of Rehabilitation. I know I have. But I wonder if I can be rehabilitated. Because in order to qualify to do business with the Department of Rehabilitation, must one necessarily have achieved a state of habilitation at some previous point in their life? Because it seems to me that to rehabilitate someone is to return them to habilitation. And if that’s the case, it makes me wonder if there was ever a point in my life when I was habilitated. And what event unhabilitated me so that I need rehabilitation?

So I looked up the various definitions of habilitate. One thing it means is to clothe or dress. Well if that’s the case, then yes, I am and have often been habilitated. In fact, I spend most of every day habilitated. The only time I’m not habilitated in that sense is when I bathe, sleep, take a dump and write my Smart Ass Cripple stuff. But I don’t think that’s the definition the Department of Rehabilitation applies.

Another definition is to fit or equip a mine for operation. Well, seeing as I’m not a mine, that probably doesn’t apply either.

But another definition is to make fit. Hmmm. So then rehabilitation would be to make fit again. So then the question is, was I ever fit in the first place? I think the premise that the Department of Rehabilitation must operate under is that all humans are fit until they become crippled, which then renders them unfit and in need of refitting. But in my case, the event that rendered me crippled was being born. So maybe the last time I was fit was in the womb. But maybe not even then. Because my crippledness is a genetic condition, which took effect the moment my mother’s egg was raped by my father’s sperm. So maybe I’ve been unfit since conception.

Don’t get me wrong. The Department of Rehabilitation has done right by me, in general. They paid for my college education. They pay the wages of the members of my pit crew who get me dressed every morning. So maybe I should go back to that first definition. Maybe when one of the guys puts clothes on me, he is returning me to my previous state of habilitation.

So maybe I can be rehabilitated after all.


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Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Face of the Facially Disfigured

Mom was excited when she came home one day from her job with the federal government. She said a new janitor came in today to empty the office trash cans at the end of the day.

She recognized his face. She recognized it because it was scarred and smeared. She knew he just had to be the kid who attended that segregated elementary school for cripples with me in the 1960s. His name was Kareem Abdul Jabbar (smart ass cripple alias).

Legend had it that when Kareem Abdul Jabbar was a tiny kid, he was sitting in a car as some dumbass adult was smoking a cigarette while pumping gas. A fire broke out and the rest is history.

That was the only reason he was banished to the cripple school- because he has a disfigured face. There was nothing else crippled about him.

My mother said Kareem Abdul Jabbar was a very nice guy, very soft-spoken and mild-mannered. Mom said she felt happy for him that in spite of it all, he had the gumption to land on his feet.

But I wondered if Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s aspiration was to be a janitor on the night shift. Maybe so. But if not, I don’t know if he had much choice. Suppose he showed up at my mom’s office as an executive. A lot of people might’ve been uneasy with that. It’s one thing when a guy with a disfigured face takes out your trash. It’s quite another when you have to take orders from him. And if he was an executive, somebody would have inevitability grumbled about affirmative action. “He only got the job instead of me because of his face! Quotas! Reverse discrimination!” But nobody bitches about affirmative action when you’re a janitor.

And did Kareem Abdul Jabbar also aspire to be soft-spoken and mild-mannered? Again, I don’t know if he had much choice. Suppose he had a bent for flamboyance. Suppose he wore Hawaiian shirts that drew attention to him. Suppose he was opinionated. That would’ve been way too much for some people.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the face of the facially disfigured. He was their ambassador, if you will. And with that came tremendous responsibility. Don’t push it. Don’t overstep the unspoken bounds. Don’t blow it or they might not ever give another facially disfigured person a job. Mind your business. Do your job, efficiently and quietly.



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Friday, February 16, 2018

Before I was Invested


Ah yes, I remember back in the days before cripples like me were invested. What heady times those were! Like back in the 1970s, when I was still living in my mother’s house and there was no such thing as cripple-accessible public transportation, at least not in these parts. At one point there were big headlines about how the bus drivers and other public transit workers were threatening to go on strike. Everybody was all panicky, but I just sat back and laughed. Let ‘em strike ‘til they’re blue in the face, I gloated to myself. I’ll still get around just fine, thank you very much. I’ll still have my cripple van and my mother to drive it so screw all you all pathetic, interdependent suckers! Who’s the one getting left behind now? Ha!

But now I’m invested. The outside world isn’t the outside world anymore. I no longer live with mom and all the buses are accessible. So now a strike by transit workers would make me panicky as well because what if I want to go somewhere? Or what about the people who come get me in and out of bed? I call them my pit crew. If public transportation is shut down, how are they going to get to me? I’ll shrivel up and die!

Sometimes when I look out of the window and I feel dread because the weather is brutal as hell, like there’s an apocalyptic blizzard and it 900 below zero, I wonder how I’d feel if I was sealed away in some climate –controlled nursing home where it’s always 72 degrees, just like on Leave it to Beaver. I think it would be de ja vu. As I looked out of the window at those bundled-up losers, the exhilarating smugness would return at last! Don’t you frost-bitten sheep wish you could be like me, with nowhere to go, no one to see, nothing to do 24/7 except watch Columbo (where it’s always 72 degrees)? This is like Club Med!

But I’m invested. I’m not sealed away it a climate-controlled nursing home. So when I look out the window and the weather is brutal as hell, I get panicky because what if I want to go somewhere? Or what about the people who come get me in and out of bed? If there’s an apocalyptic blizzard and it’s 900 below zero, how are they going to get to me? I’ll shrivel up and die!

I am no longer sovereign and strong, immune from that which befuddles the masses. I’m invested.



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